This isn't your typical pasta sauce. This sauce is packed with so many vegetables that amp up the nutritional value of this household staple. It is also a great way to sneak vegetables into any kid's diet, or, honestly, anyone else's diet who isn't great about eating enough veggies.
This sauce can be used in place of a jarred pasta sauce. We also use this as the sauce on our homemade pizzas. My house is full of carb-ivores so this is how I balance out their plates. Those dang picky kids. You know the ones. The ones who find a onion you chopped so small it is virtually microscopic but somehow they find it and suddenly the food is inedible.
Seriously, though. This is the only sauce I make now. I make it because it is just a simple way to get vegetables in even when you just want a pasta night. It is also how I use up a lot of veggies that may go bad before we get to them. If I know we won't eat vegetables before they go bad I prep them and freeze them. When it comes time to needing more sauce I know I have veggies in the freezer ready to go, so all I have to do is throw them in the pot.
This recipe makes a lot. I usually get 3 - 4 quart size jar full. I put the jars in the freezer. The night before I know I will need it, I take a jar out and put it in the refrigerator to thaw.
If you don't want this many jars just halve the recipe. No biggie.
The ingredients may look long but it is mostly herbs and spices.
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 bell pepper, chopped
4 to 5 cups chopped veggies of choice, fresh or frozen (see note)
3T tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
1/4 red wine, optional
2T balsamic vinegar
28 oz can whole tomatoes
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup water
1 cup fresh basil (added in at very end)
Note: Veggies that are good to use are carrots, zucchini, celery, dark leafy greens (stems from the leafy greens), eggplant, peppers, or squash. You basically want mild flavored veggies that will blend well into your sauce. Carrots are my favorite as they add a nice sweetness.
In a large pot on medium heat saute your onions until they are translucent and starting to lightly brown.
Add in your garlic, bell pepper, and other veggies. Allow them to cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally for 8-10 minutes.
Once everything is warmed through and starting to break down add in your dried spices (except bay leaf) and tomato paste. Stir until everything is coated. Cook for another couple minutes. Add in your red wine, if using, and your balsamic vinegar, cooking until most of the liquid is absorbed.
Now add in your cans of tomatoes and the water. When I add in the water, I add it to the tomato cans swirling it around to get any additional tomato and pour that into the pot - so honestly, my half cup measurement is never exact. Give everything a good stir. Now throw in the bay leaf.
Bring everything to a gentle boil. Once it begins to boil turn the heat down to a low simmer. Cover most of the way with a lid and allow to simmer gently on low for 30 minutes.
Once everything is cooked you can process it one of two ways:
Chunkier version: Use an immersion blender in the pot until your desired consistency. Just add in your basil first so you can puree that in. With this method I would chop the basil first to make it easier to blend into the sauce.
Smoother version: In batches add the sauce to a blender with the fresh basil and puree until nice and smooth. Remember when blending hot food to never fill your blender more than halfway or your sauce will become your new kitchen paint color.
Store in the freezer for up to 6 months. I use quart size jars to portion it out but use what you have. You will have sauce on hand when you want it. Because sometimes you just need a big ol' plate of pasta!
A great recipe to use this sauce in is Tofu Ricotta Pasta Bake
Have you made a sauce like this before?